Kiwi's incubator for third world babies
Fri, 03 Aug 2012 6:24p.m.
By Samantha Hayes
A British study has found a serious flaw with expensive medical equipment being donated by rich countries to the world's poor.
It says the well-meant gestures often backfire because the equipment can't be operated or serviced properly.
But New Zealand medical innovator Sir Ray Avery says the real outcome's actually far worse than that and the gifts can prove fatal, so he is working on a solution.
High tech hand-me-downs like an incubator are supposed to save lives in developing countries, but Sir Ray says if they can't maintain the devices, people die.
“If you've got a broken-down incubator you can buy bits from anywhere in the world, but often babies in India for instance will be burned to death because of poor electrical insulation when the repair is done.”
The incubator's humidity system requires sterile water, but that's expensive so tap water full of bacteria is used, and infections quickly spread.
“It's a silly idea to put a baby in what is essentially a container full of bacteria.”
And over time gunk in the water clogs the incubator's valves, rendering the machine useless. An estimated 40 percent of health equipment in developing countries sits idle and out of service.
Unicef New Zealand executive director Dennis McKinlay says it’s a difficult situation.
“Well in many cases they're very high-tech, they're very expensive and require a lot of training to use them properly.”
Unicef believes a new incubator pod being designed by Sir Ray could be a life saver for the 5 million infants who die each year as a result of low birth weight and infection.
“If Sir Ray has managed to develop something that is cheaper, is useable by countries that would get it then that would be a great addition to the drive to reduce child mortality no doubt,” Mr McKinlay says.
His incubators will cost just $1500; the current models cost $15,000. It will also run for 10 years without servicing and sterilises its own water with a built-in filter.
“You have to have clever technology that jumps over all the problems and is getting something to a customer that they can afford,” Sir Ray says. “That's what gets me up in the morning. Sexy science can change the way we deal with international health care.”
It's been four years in the making and will be field tested in the Pacific and Africa later this year.
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5/08/2012 11:05:09 p.m.
Zakaria Elhidaoui wrote:
this is incredible, I live in USA, originally I'm from Morocco, I have a premature baby, thank God his doing good right now, it was so early when he decided to come out, he's been in the incubator 2.5 Months, now he is in a normal bed, hopefully few weeks before take him home, so I was thinking what if I was in Morocco, I think my baby won't make it, so I encourage this invents very much, if I can be of any help I'll be happy to do it, I know enough about incubators because of my baby son. Thank you so much for your effort and invents.
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